Thursday, December 13, 2018

Meet the Staff - Ellen Robison

Meet Ellen Robison. She is an Archival Assistant with Archival Technical Services.

How long have you worked here?

A: I was originally hired in the Public Services department in January 2016 and transferred to my current role in October 2017.

What are some of the things you do as an archival assistant?

A: There are 3 main parts to my job. I process collections by cleaning, researching, and organizing the materials to make them accessible to the public. I also serve on the rotation of designated staff who fulfill the requests of the public to view original materials kept in locked storage. Additionally, when the state legislature is in session each year, I am one of the recorders we send to record the House and Senate committee meetings and floor sessions.

What is your favorite part of your job?

A: I love how much I learn. Whether I’m researching the history of a family or event for a collection or recording a legislative meeting, there is always something new and interesting to learn about Tennessee, her past, and her people.

Do you have a favorite collection?

A: Picking a single favorite collection is difficult but I would have to say the World War II Veteran Survey collection ( This record group is comprised of over 6,000 surveys of men and women from all walks of life who served during the Second World War. Many veterans, or their family members, submitted supplemental materials such as photographs or personal accounts along with their questionnaires. It is a treasure trove of individual legacies and provides a unique perspective on the war.

What makes libraries and archives relevant to modern society?

A: Preserving our society’s past is a vital part of society’s development. One of the best ways to improve our future is by studying our past, uncovering our failures as well as our successes, and applying that knowledge as we move forward. By understanding the foundations of our society, we can work to improve it for future generations. Libraries and archives ensure that future generations will be able to do the same.

The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Genealogy Resources available through TEL and beyond!

By Andrea Zielke

Maybe it is the time of the season, the shorter days or just my age but I’ve become more interested in learning about my family tree. I’m from Wisconsin but now a Tennessee resident so I’ve had search for new resources available from my new home state. Through the Tennessee Electronic Library and the Tennessee State Library and Archives, there are a number of free resources available to Tennesseans who want to learn more about their family history. 

Beginner and professional genealogists can use HeritageQuest Online to trace family histories and American culture from the comfort of their home. This resource includes the digitized U.S. Federal Censuses from 1790 through 1940, genealogy and local history books, Revolutionary War records, Freedman’s Bank Records, and U.S. Congressional Serial Set records.

HeritageQuest Online can be used to answer questions including:
  • Where did my family live in the United States between 1790 and 1940?
  • Where can I find information about my African American ancestors?
  • Some of my ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. What records are available?
  • I am writing a story set in Knoxville, TN in 1930. How can I find information about the families and businesses found there during that time?
  • How did county boundaries appear when each census was taken?

In my initial family search, I have found some ancestors that lived and died in Tennessee. In partnership with, the Tennessee State Library and Archives provides access to several important collections of Tennessee records. 
  • Tennessee, Delayed Birth Records, 1869-1909
  • Tennessee, Death Records, 1908-1958
  • Tennessee, City Birth Records, 1881-1915
  • North Carolina and Tennessee, Early Land Records, 1753-1931
  • Tennessee, Early Tax List Records, 1783-1895
  • Tennessee, Enumeration of Male Voters, 1891
  • North Carolina and Tennessee, Revolutionary War Land Warrants, 1783-1843
  • Tennessee, Early Land Registers, 1778-1927
  • Tennessee, City Death Records, 1872-1923
  • Tennessee, Wills and Probate Records, 1779-2008
  • Web: Tennessee, Supreme Court Case Index, 1809-1950

While searching the Tennessean, I have found that some of my ancestors that have made news! Through TEL, Tennesseans can now search the full archive of the newspaper back to 1812. Full scans of each page of the paper are available to search including the articles, wedding announcements, death notices, ads and classifieds. I even found Minnie Pearl’s engagement announcement!

If you are from a smaller town and your ancestors did not make Nashville news, there are other resources available to search online.  Chronicling America, a project of the Library of Congress, has digitized 125 Tennessee newspapers (1690-present) that are available to the public.

Additional resources

Beyond just newspapers, the Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA) is a digital repository of Tennessee history and culture featuring historical records, photographs, documents, maps, postcards, film, audio and other original materials of enduring value.  TeVA contains a subset of the Library & Archives materials and is updated monthly with new content. Plus, it is free and available to everyone!

The Tennessee State Library and Archives also provides indexes to some collections and county genealogical fact sheets. Although the indexes do not provide access to the records themselves, you can submit order forms, request materials through interlibrary loan, or plan a visit to the Tennessee State Library and Archives to dig into the collections!

If you cannot find a digitized version of what you are looking for, the Tennessee State Library and Archives have amazing staff that can help aid you on your search. If you can’t come to the library in person, you can call, email, or even chat live with a librarian if you have questions!

Don’t forget to check out what resources are available at your local public library or local archive.  Many libraries and archives have additional genealogy resources about their community. 

Editor's Note: The author is grateful for research and editorial assistance provided by Library and Archives staff members Trent Hanner, Allison Griffey, Jennifer Randles, and Lisa Walker

The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett

Friday, November 30, 2018

Tennessee Connections to the Tropics: the Croft and Dallas Families

By Jennifer Randles

When doing historical research, have you ever wished you could talk to the people who wrote the documents you are using, or visit the places where they once live? I recently got the chance to find out while traveling for research on the Grassmere Collection. This October, Tori Mason, Historic Site Manager at the Nashville Zoo, and I set off on an adventure to record an oral history in Miami and walk in the steps of Elise and Margaret Croft in Cuba.

The Grassmere digital collection is a sampling of the larger collection housed here at the Library & Archives. The Grassmere Collection, 1786-1985, centers around five generations of the same family that lived at Grassmere Farm in Nashville. The home is one of the oldest residences in Davidson County open to the public, and the property served as a family farm for 175 years. Margaret and Elise Croft willed the Grassmere property to be used as a nature preserve upon their deaths, and the Croft home is now managed as part of the Nashville Zoo. While working on this collection, I became fascinated with the Croft sisters and their lives, particularly their life in Cuba in the early 1900s.

1955 Advertisement for Antillian & General Concrete Construction Companies.

William Croft moved to Cuba shortly after the Spanish-American War to found the General Concrete Construction Company of Cuba, which made reinforced concrete chimneys for the sugar industry. He brought his wife Kate and daughters Elise and Margaret to live on the island a few years later. In 1925, Mrs. Croft, Elise, and Margaret moved back to Grassmere, while Mr. Croft remained in Cuba to run the business. After Mr. Croft’s death in 1938, Elise and Margaret owned the company until the Cuban government seized their property in 1961. This aspect of the collection sparked my interest, as it is unusual to find material on the Cuban Revolution in a collection about Tennessee. In particular, the letters from Bradford Dallas stood out, as they give a glimpse on what it was like to live in Havana during the Revolution.

1958 letter from Bradford Dallas to Elise Croft.

Bradford B. Dallas, now 94 years old, was born in Havana to Charles F. Dallas, a native Knoxvillian. Both Bradford and his father attended the University of Tennessee for engineering. Charles Dallas founded the Antillian Construction Company in 1917, and Bradford managed both Antillian and the Crofts’ General Concrete from 1953 to 1961. Bradford’s vivid letters detail the change in political climate on the island during these years. In the first of these letters, he discusses the political changes on the island, noting that “things have not been as bad as the newspapers in the United States have said.” Only three years later, he notes that he barely escaped Cuba with his life, saying “we will have nothing left when we get back there. If and when!”

While researching Bradford for the digital collection earlier this year, I found what appeared to be his phone number and sent it to Tori- who made the leap and called Bradford himself! This first contact led to conversations with his son, Bob, who arranged a visit to Miami in early October for an oral history interview. Joining Bradford and Bob for the interviews were Bradford’s wife Sonia and his youngest daughter Christine. They were all fantastic hosts who treated us like family and kept our interview with Bradford lively.

Bradford Dallas discusses the procedure for building reinforced concrete chimneys.

We covered many topics over our time in Miami: stories from the Cuban Revolution, his dramatic escape from Cuba (he flew a plane back to Miami, taking his slide rule with him!), his experience growing up on the island, managing the construction companies, concrete chimney building, his family history in Tennessee, and his relationship with the Croft sisters.

Bradford Dallas points out his office location on a 1951 map of Havana. Bob Dallas conducts research in the background.

One of the highlights of our trip was working with a large 1951 map of Havana I printed. We brought this along with photos and documents from the collection to help guide the interviews along. We rolled the map out on the table and Bradford marked several locations on it. I marked the same locations on a smaller version of the map we took with us to Havana. Bradford has a great sense of humor and shared many fascinating stories, and I feel so fortunate and grateful to have been able to record them for the future. We ended up with around three hours of oral history, and plan to release excerpts from it on TeVA in the future.

Once we wrapped up the interviews, Tori and I got ready for the next leg of our trip: Cuba! Since we were already traveling, we decided to take a leap and head to Cuba to see some of the places we’d researched for ourselves. We had about 48 hours in Havana to track down the locations on our list and take photos. We knew 48 hours would be tight, so we hit the ground running!

Sonia and Alejandro match old streets with their new names.

Once we arrived in Havana, we in at an apartment in Vedado, the neighborhood where the Croft family lived. We told our hostess Sonia what we needed to do and she arranged for her son Alejandro to drive us in his 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air the next day. Using a smaller version of the 1951 map, they compared the old and new street names and planned out a route for our big day out.

Image of Croft House at 419 Calle 19, in front of current buildings at that address.

Hand-colored print / current-day pillars on Calle 19.

Our top priority was going to the Croft family’s home at 419 Calle 19. There is a lovely hand-colored print of the house in the digital collection, and we had hopes that it was still standing. Sadly, it was not standing, but the pink concrete posts nearby do look a lot like the ones in our image! Despite our disappointment, we ventured on, knowing that we were treading where Elise and Margaret once walked.

Elise & Margaret Croft at the Chinese Embassy / Chinese Embassy badminton courts.

Since the Crofts socialized with members of multiple legations, we made sure to visit some embassies. We saw the ball courts at the Chinese embassy, where the sisters were photographed playing badminton. We could not get inside, but we did get to see the tops of the nets from the street. We then visited two locations Bradford had marked on the map: his 1960 residence on Calle 28 and his father’s 1953 residence in a neighborhood near the world-famous Cabaret Tropicana.

Presidential Palace / Museo de la Revolución.

Bank of Nova Scotia building, Calle Cuba & O’Reilly.

That afternoon, we headed to old Havana (La Habana Vieja). We saw the Spanish Embassy, the former Presidential Palace (now Museo de la Revolución), the construction companies’ office building on Calle Cuba, and finally the neoclassical Bank of Nova Scotia building, where William Croft had an office until he died there in 1938.

Masonic Mausoleum in Necrópolis Cristóbal Colón. Charles F. Dallas, Jr. and Sr. are buried here.

The next morning, we made one more outing before leaving the island to find Charles F. Dallas’s gravesite in Necrópolis Cristóbal Colón. One of the largest cemeteries in the Americas, it is truly a “city of the dead,” spanning over 140 acres and containing over 1 million interments. With the help of the cemetery staff, we found the mausoleum where Bradford’s father (d. 1953) and brother (d. 1934) are buried. We continued taking photos in the cemetery until we were exhausted, and then headed back to the airport.

In the end, we brought back a fascinating oral history, documentation on the Croft and Dallas families’ lives in Cuba, and tons of photographs. Looking back through the collection and listening to the interview, I get excited when I recognize many of the places we visited in person. It has been a truly rewarding journey, and I feel fortunate to have been able to contribute to and help preserve the Croft and Dallas families’ stories. Learn more by visiting the digital collection at

The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Meet the Staff - Carol Roberts

Welcome to another installment of “Meet the Staff.” Today, let’s meet Carol Roberts. She is the Conservation Manager for the Tennessee State Library and Archives.

How long have you worked here?

I have worked here since September 1986. That is 32 years, or 5 governors soon to be six, 5 Secretaries of State and 4 State Librarians.

What are some of the things you do as a Conservation manager?

Being the Conservation Manager involves being responsible for the preservation of the collection; books, documents, photographs, anything that is permanent part of the collection. That involves any and all techniques and environments to lengthen the lifespan of the item. We match unique techniques to the needs of the item; such as basic cleaning, then stabilizing the item based on the chemistry of it, and the care and handling of each item or collection. I use a different process or archival conservation technique each day to preserve something in Tennessee history.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I have many favorite things about the Library and Archives, but my top projects include helping counties care for their permanent records either on microfilm and or permanent documents related to the county. I love touring county courthouse attics, basements, and storage looking for rare historic documents to help the citizens of the county preserve their history. In 32 years I have visited all 95 counties to help either a county official, county archivist, museum, or public library.

Do you have a favorite collection?

In addition to county records that tell neat stories, I enjoy working on historic photographs. They provide wonderful clues to the story of historic events or people. The type of photographic style, the studio details, and any notes add clues to build historic story. Photographs help bring in much more interest than just words on paper. I never look at a historic image without looking at every detail of the subject and even the background.

What makes libraries and archives relevant to modern society?

Libraries and archives bring the detail of history and current events into perspective. It helps understand why it is important to do things a certain way, or why laws exist. Or, it can even be as simple as why that road or creek is named the way it is. There is always a story from the past and it should be the strong foundation for the future.

The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett

Friday, November 16, 2018

Tennessee’s Turn-of-the-Century Automobiles

By Andrew McMahan

Automobiles gained traction relatively quickly in the United States. Tennessee was no exception. However, good roads were largely confined to urban areas in the Northeastern U.S. Like other southern states, Tennessee’s roads were largely insufficient to handle automobile traffic at the beginning of the twentieth century. In fact, rural southern roads were often ill-equipped to handle horse and foot traffic. The Tennessee State Highway Department did not yet exist. Instead, these roads were often overseen by county officials and badly maintained by convict or statute labor. Statute labor in the South involved local governments requiring citizens to provide labor for public works projects. This system was largely unsuccessful and resulted in poor quality of work. According to House Bill 839, passed by the General Assembly in 1899, all males between the ages of eighteen and fifty were subject to road labor for a period of four to eight days out of the year. However, Tennesseans subject to road duty were permitted to pay fifty cents per day they were required to work to the local commissioner, freeing them from the labor obligation.

A muddy dirt road near Cookeville, 1912. Library Collection.

The lack of good roads in the United States was not due to the absence of the means or expertise to build them, but because many people felt there was no real need for the improved infrastructure. Travel by railroad was faster and more economical than any form of highway transportation at the turn of the century. As a result, rural roads had long been neglected in favor of railroads. By the beginning of the twentieth century, Americans, especially those in rural areas, had grown tired of the railroad’s dominance of overland transportation. Farmers in the South were often isolated by their roads, which often only connected them to the nearest railroad station.

Lucy G. Drane in a Buick automobile on West Avenue in Clarksville, ca. 1909. Looking Back at Tennessee Collection.

Despite the poor state of the nation’s roads, Tennesseans and other Americans began purchasing automobiles. Technological advancements and developments such as Ford’s Model T made automobiles increasingly affordable, enabling more people to purchase them. The total production output for American automobile manufacturers in 1900 was 4,192 units, most of which were built by numerous small shops around the country. In 1908, the year in which the Model T was released and General Motors was founded, production rose to 65,000 units. Additionally, almost 400,000 automobiles were registered in the U.S. As more and more Americans purchased automobiles during the early decades of the twentieth century, the Federal and state governments began spending millions of dollars on new and existing infrastructure in order to accommodate increased traffic. This included large-scale road building projects such as the Dixie Highway and, eventually, the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways.

Automobile being washed in Kettle Creek, Clay County, 1924. Library Collection.

Many Tennesseans were already purchasing and driving automobiles during the first decade of the twentieth century. The Tennessee State Library and Archives houses the Secretary of State Automobile Registrations for the years 1904-1914 (Record Group 111), which is comprised of the earliest automobile registrations in Tennessee. These are organized by year and then by county. They reveal a wealth of information, including who owned automobiles and which counties had the most registrants. Additionally, the registrations record what each individual was driving. The Big Three (General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Chrysler) did not yet dominate the American automobile market in 1904. Instead, several smaller manufacturers competed for sales. In fact, both the Automobile Manufacturers Association and the Automobile Club of Michigan compiled a list of around fifteen-hundred manufacturers in the United States producing automobiles in the early twentieth century, though most of them were gone by the World War I. Perhaps your ancestor drove an REO, a Ford Model C, a battery-powered Runabout from the National Motor Vehicle Company, or a steam-powered 1904 Touring Car from the White Sewing Machine Company.

Automobiles manufactured by Marathon Motor Works of Nashville, 1910. Looking Back at Tennessee.

Edward C. Andrews' automobile registration. Record Group 111.

This particular registration was for Edward C. Andrews of Nashville and his 20 horsepower, gasoline-propelled Marmon, built by the Nordyke and Marmon Company. Because Andrews lived in Nashville, we were able to look up his name in the city directory for 1905. Andrews was an executive at the Liberty Mills Company, a manufacturer of flour, meal, and grits. As shown on the back of the form, Andrews transferred the automobile and registration to Goodloe Lindsley (of Lindsley Real Estate) in 1906.

Note transferring the registration from Edward C. Andrews to Goodloe Lindsley. Record Group 111.

This record group does not only consist of automobile registrations for individual citizens, but for companies as well. The following registration is for five gasoline-powered Runabouts built by the Ford Motor Company for the Cumberland Telephone and Telegraph Company (later purchased by the Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company, which was purchased by AT&T). These were among the first automobiles from the Ford Motor Company registered in Nashville as well as the State of Tennessee.

Registration for the Cumberland Telephone and Telegraph Company. Record Group 111.

These registrations can yield fascinating information. Come take a look and see where your ancestors fit in Tennessee’s automotive history. Also, for those interested in transportation, be sure to look at TSLA’s other collections, such as the Tennessee Department of Highways and Public Works Records, 1913-1972 (Record Group 84).

Sources Cited:

Tennessee General Assembly. House of Representatives. House Bill 839: An Act to Regulate the Working and Laying Out of Public Roads in This State. 51st General Assembly, 1899.

Secretary of State Automobile Registrations, 1904-14, Record Group 111. Tennessee State Library and Archives. Nashville, Tennessee.

Tennessee Department of Highways and Public Works Records, 1913-1972, Record Group 84. Tennessee State Library and Archives. Nashville, Tennessee.

Ingram, Tammy. Dixie Highway: Road Building and the Making of the Modern South, 1900- 1930. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014.

Rae, John B. The American Automobile: A Brief History. University of Chicago Press, 1965.

The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Job Hunting & Career Changing with help from the Tennessee Electronic Library!

By Andrea Zielke

One of the most difficult aspects of job hunting or changing careers is figuring out how to begin.  The whole process can seem overwhelming.  When I moved to Nashville and started looking for a job, I forgot how long a job search could take and I had no idea what resources were available to help me. I went to my local library and found that they had free resources to help with my job hunt.  The resources covered the whole job hunting process: doing a career assessment, creating resumes and cover letters, and even practice interviews!  Who would have guessed that the resources I used to start my career in Nashville would help me land a job where I am responsible for those same resources!  The Tennessee Electronic Library ( and your local public library offer many free tools to help get your job search off on the ground!

Online Resources

Career Transitions is a very intuitive, user friendly database that can guide anyone through the major steps of the employment process including choosing a career, job searching, applying and interviewing.  If you have previous professional or military experience, you can match those skills with potential careers. Career Transitions also includes sample resume and cover letters based on experience and industry which is always helpful when you do not know quite how to begin.  The goal is to improve the user’s chance of getting a new job and this tool is very helpful.

Users are not required to sign up for an account to use the resources provided in this database but it is recommended to sign up for an account if you use Career Transitions to track and manage your job search, resumes and cover letters.

Based on the name, you may think that Testing and Education Reference Center is only for high school and college students, but there are many useful tools in the database for all ages.  Testing and Education Reference Center has many professional practice exams, online courses and ebooks for many careers including cosmetology, nursing, civil service and many more. If you are going back to school, there are practice entrance exams for community colleges, undergraduate and graduate programs.  It also includes undergrad and grad school program searches and a scholarship search! There are great articles and checklists for getting ready to go back to school. 

Like Career Transitions, Testing and Education Reference Center also includes a resume builder where you can create and manage multiple resumes during your job search.  It also has a Virtual Career Library with tutorials to walk you through the career-seeking process - from searching for jobs, to preparing resumes and cover letters, and negotiating job conditions. Learn how to find a new career, land the job, and thrive in your new position.

Users are required to sign up for an account to use the resources provided in this database to track and manage your college search, testing scores and resumes.

TEL also provides access to a number of magazines, trade publications and newspapers to help you keep up to date in your current or potential field through the Vocations and Career Collection on TEL.  The database offers hundreds of current and applicable periodicals, from general career guides to highly specialized industry journals.

Computers and WiFi 

If you need computers or WiFi to create resumes and apply for jobs, you can find resources at your local public library (link to: Computers for public use and WiFi access are available in Tennessee public libraries. You can print from these public computers. Laptops and WiFi hotspots can often be borrowed from your public library. If you need help learning how to use computers, many public libraries offer many computers classes or web-based training tutorials. 

The Tennessee Electronic Library is excited to offer these resources for free to Tennessean!  Happy job hunting!

The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett

Monday, November 12, 2018

TLABM honors Veterans on Veteran's Day

By Ruth Hemphill

The division of the Library of Congress which oversees the services of the Tennessee Library for Accessible Books and Services (TLABM) is known as the National Library Service for the Blind & Physically Handicapped (NLS).

NLS libraries across the country have prioritized library service to veterans since the end of World War I and this continues into the 21st century. In addition, each year the TLABM and the Tennessee School for the Blind’s art students partner to distribute cards to all TLABM patrons who are veterans. The students create the artwork, and the library distributes them through the post office.

This year, the artwork was so wonderful, that it was impossible to select just one card. Six different cards were printed, along with an acknowledgement of gratitude to the veterans for their service. The cards were randomly distributed to 473 active patrons of the library.

Of course, people who are not military veterans may use the services of the TLABM. In fact, we currently have 6,105 active patrons. However, we know there are many other eligible Tennesseans who are not using our service. For information on who is eligible for the library service and how to qualify, go to TLABM’s website at:

The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Armistice Day and the Robert Frank Hodge World War I Papers

By Sara Horne

November 11 marks 100 years since the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. Here at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, we are lucky to house many collections that help us understand and honor Tennesseans who took part “Over There.” One such collection is the Robert Frank Hodge World War I Papers.

 Robert Francis (Frank) Hodge was born July 7, 1893, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Frank attended Chattanooga High School and then the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.

Robert Francis (Frank) Hodge in uniform. Hodge served as a private and clerk for his unit in France.

Shortly after the United States joined the war on the Allied side, the French high command requested 6,000 volunteer Americans to man field ambulances on the Western Front. That call was directed mainly at college men, initially from Ivy League and eastern universities, to join the American Field Service (AFS), an American volunteer ambulance corps under the French Army. In May 1917, while still a student at the University of the South, Hodge joined the 36-man unit recruited from Sewanee. Once in France, the AFS was divided into smaller sections called Sections Sanitaire [Etats-] Unis (SSU). Hodge and the other Sewanee men formed SSU 558, in which he served as a private and clerk.

David Van Alstyne Jr. commanded SSU 558 and kept journals (placed in Hodge’s care as clerk) where he recorded when the unit transfers to a new city or village and his responsibilities and actions during their time in France. On Armistice Day he writes, “we hollered” and it was “the beginning of a perfect day.”

Hodge and SSU 558 were in Etroeungt when they learned of the signing of the Armistice. In one of his journals, Van Alstyne wrote it was “the beginning of a perfect day.”

Stretcherbearers from SSU 558 load an injured soldier into the back of their ambulance.

David Van Alstyne Jr. was commander of SSU 558 and wrote journals that were left in Hodge’s care.

The Robert Frank Hodge World War I Papers are fully available to view on the Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA). You may also browse some of our other digitized World War I collections such as the Puryear Family Photo Album and Over Here Over There.

The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett

Friday, November 9, 2018

Veteran's Day spotlight: May Winston Caldwell and the Battle of Nashville

By Megan Spainhour

November 11th is marked on our calendars as a special day to take time to remember and commemorate those who have sacrificed so much for our country. Whether remembered as Armistice Day, Veterans Day or Remembrance Day, the day has a common ground around the world to honor, memorialize, and celebrate military veterans in their heroic and valiant efforts.

This Veteran’s Day, we shine a spotlight on a scrapbook in our collections at the State Library and Archives; the scrapbook of May Winston Caldwell. May Winston Caldwell, born in 1855 in Nashville, was a prominent leader, homemaker, writer and highly active in the historical societies in the area. She was married to businessman James E. Caldwell. When she wasn’t busy maintaining her home “Longview” in South Nashville or caring for her ten children, she served as president of the Ladies Battlefield Association. It was this association, led by the passion and spirit of May Caldwell, that a monument was erected in Nashville to honor those Tennesseans who fought in the Battle of Nashville on December 18, 1864.

Map showing the site of the Battle of Nashville, fought December 15-16, 1864.

The monument was crafted by well-known sculptor Giuseppe Moretti. It was dedicated on Armistice Day, November 11, 1927, and was meant to symbolize peace. The original site of the monument was located near Franklin Road and Thompson Lane in Nashville. However, after a tornado damaged the statue in 1974, it was restored, relocated and rededicated in 1999 at its present day location of Granny White Pike and Battlefield Drive. The original dedication in 1927 drew large crowds and prominent citizens, including Tennessee Governor Henry Horton, Col. Luke Lea, several veterans, and even an invitation to the President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge.

Sculptor Giuseppe Moretti at a marble quarry in Italy, he is standing next to a large chunk of marble presumably used in the monument.

On the base of the monument is inscribed “The Spirit of Youth holds in check the contending forces that struggled here in the first battle of Nashville, Dec. 16. 1864, Sealing forever the bond of union by the blood of our heroic dead of the World War, 1917-1918. A Monument like this, standing on such memories, having no reference to utilities, becomes a Sentiment. A Poet. A Prophet. An Orator to every passerby.”

Postcard photograph of Italian sculptor Giuseppe Moretti and wife Dorthea in front of their home, addressed to Mr and Mrs Caldwell. The photograph is signed "Merry Christmas and Very Happy New Year from Mr and Mrs G Moretti, 1933."

The base of the Battle of Nashville monument. Represented in the horses is the division of the north and the south, brought together by the spirit of youth.

May Winston Caldwell addressing the gathering at the dedication of the Battle of Nashville Monument, Nov 11, 1927.

Poem titled 'Taps' by Poet Laureate and former State Librarian and Archivist John Trotwood Moore, spoken at the dedication of the Battle of Nashville monument to the tune of ‘Taps.’

Battle of Nashville Monument at its original location on Franklin Road.

Battle of Nashville Monument seen on the side of Franklin Road, its original location before it was damaged by a tornado.

To learn more about this monument and the Battle of Nashville, visit the Tennessee Library and Archives and page through the May Winston Caldwell Scrapbook. The catalog entry for this item is found HERE.

The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Tennessee Virtual Archive has a new look...

Happy Halloween!

No tricks, all treats! The Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA) has undergone a major overhaul and has a new look for the first time since 2012! Visit it at

We have worked hard to create a fun, inviting design that showcases the materials in our collections. The new responsive design features eye-catching images and new ways to discover what we have in our digital collections, such as checking out a random item or exploring the collections by location or format.

Each collection has a new custom landing page that helps tell the story of that collection and connects it to similar materials we have. The new design is more accessible and now mobile-friendly, with better readability and an improved image viewer that works on devices of all sizes. The new and old versions of TeVA will exist side-by-side for the rest of the year, then we will permanently transition to the new TeVA at the end of 2018.

What's your favorite item in TeVA? Find it in the new site at!

The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett